After 10 years, a chase for hidden treasure in the Rocky Mountains has come to an end.
Forrest Fenn, a New Mexico art collector who created the treasure hunt, announced this weekend that someone had found the bronze chest that he had buried in the mountains, filled with gold nuggets, coins, sapphires, diamonds and pre-Columbian artifacts that together he estimated were worth $2 million.
“It was under a canopy of stars in the lush, forested vegetation of the Rocky Mountains and had not moved from the spot where I hid it more than 10 years ago,” Mr. Fenn, 89, said on his website. He did not elaborate on the exact location.
“I do not know the person who found it, but the poem in my book led him to the precise spot,” said Mr. Fenn, who lives in Santa Fe, N.M.
A man who did not want to be named found the chest a few days ago, Mr. Fenn told a local newspaper, The Santa Fe New Mexican. Mr. Fenn said that the chest’s discovery was confirmed through a photograph the man had sent him. He had previously told the newspaper that the bronze chest alone weighed 20 pounds, and its contents another 22.
Mr. Fenn, a former Air Force fighter pilot who runs a gallery in Santa Fe, hatched the idea for the hunt decades ago, after he learned he had kidney cancer. He had planned to have his remains interred with the riches, but when he recovered from the disease, he buried the box to give families a reason to “get off their couches,” he said in 2016.
He announced the quest to the world in a self-published 2010 memoir, “The Thrill of the Chase,” and provided clues to the location in 24 cryptic verses of a poem.
He said that the treasure was hidden in the Rockies and 5,000 feet above sea level, hints that have sometimes led hunters into dangerous and remote stretches of wilderness. Since then, tens of thousands of people have searched for the chest, according to Mr. Fenn — who eventually specified that the valuables were not in an area that an octogenarian would find hard to reach.
But at least two people have died trying to follow his clues. In 2017, the chief of the New Mexico State Police urged Mr. Fenn to stop the hunt, saying that people were putting their lives on the line.
“If someone drowns in the swimming pool we shouldn’t drain the pool. We should teach people to swim,” Mr. Fenn told The New York Times that year, saying that the hunt would continue.
On his website this weekend, Mr. Fenn commended all the thrill seekers who had tried to find the chest over the years.
“I congratulate the thousands of people who participated in the search and hope they will continue to be drawn by the promise of other discoveries,” he said.